Public Inquiry on the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:00 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 4:00 pm, 24th January 2017

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Chomhalta as a cheist. I believe that, contrary to what Mr Smith said and Mrs Little Pengelly suggested, the idea of divorcing ourselves from the chair is the right way forward. Anyone who believes that the public would have more confidence in the inquiry if I were to continue to interfere in the terms of reference, say that a future Finance Minister should not publish the report or interfere in the disclosure of documents and that that is the right way forward in helping restore public confidence has, for sure, not been watching TV since 'Spotlight' went out last December. I think the public will welcome the fact that not only have I accepted the Lord Chief Justice's nomination of Sir Patrick Coghlin but I am going the extra mile and putting into the terms of reference — I am not obliged to do this, but I think public confidence demands it — a series of commitments and pledges. Who knows if there will be a future Finance Minister? Hopefully, there will. Who knows what party that Finance Minister will be affiliated to? But I trust and believe — I am not hearing it just yet — that every party will give the pledge that I am giving that there will be no ministerial interference in the inquiry. I am taking that for granted, despite the questions so far.

You cannot have your cake and eat it: either you want the Minister to interfere, which would absolutely undermine public confidence in the route that I have chosen, or you want to restore public confidence and get to the truth of RHI. The way to do that is for the Minister to step back and to give a pledge to serve the public interest.